Featured Journal of the month

The Big Picture.

Having a big picture mindset means to be able to see all sides of an issue and the broader context in which things take place. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the big picture as the entire perspective on a situation or issue. It is everything that relates to or is involved in a situation or issue.

A person is described as seeing the big picture when he can understand a situation or concept as a whole rather than getting bogged down on specific details. Allow me to add that big picture mindedness does not just allow us to understand a situation or concept as a whole but to understand them in relation to time i.e. the future against the present.

What do I mean by the big picture and how does it influence our lives?

A sense of the big picture is what makes us do anything that has significant or eternal value. It is the factor behind finishing that degree or not, getting married or refusing to quit and staying to make a marriage work. It is the driver behind most of the sacrifices we make i.e. working hard, supporting your family, fighting for a just cause, praying, saving, being prudent, persevering etc. A sense of the big picture is what propels us to delay instant gratification and a lack of this sense is what causes some to throw away great dreams and future. People with a big picture mindset exercise patience, discretion, develop good character, have a positive disposition, recognise others’ contributions. They learn from their own experiences and the experiences they do not have. They gain insights from others and are careful about who they learn from. They are not bothered about not having all the answers or ambiguity. However their sense of the big picture allows them to broaden their thinking and knowledge.

A sense of the big picture is what determines whether we will choose to be kind when others mistreat us or choose to retaliate. It is what determines whether I will play my part when no one is looking or appreciating my efforts. When life puts us on hold, a sense of the big picture is what guarantees that we will hang in there. It is what makes us relentless rather than give up too easily. It is what empowers us to stop making a permanent decision based on temporary circumstances.

In life, there is always a side to every situation that we face that may not always be obvious to everyone and to us in the natural. But our ability to recognise this fact is what enables us to reach out for more and not allow temporary inconveniences to rob us of a great future. A sense of the big picture was what inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to fight racial inequality through nonviolence. You can see the big picture come to reality in the person of the current president of the United States of America. King saw Obama in the big picture of his mind and thought he was worth fighting for. How about the guarantor of the new covenant, Christ, He had a sense of the big picture of men and women, Jews and gentiles being reconciled to God. For this, he was willing to pay the price of crucifixion. Staying committed to the big picture requires sacrifice and patience. But the reward is always worth the sacrifice.

People who allow how they are feeling or thinking today to limit them in the actions or decisions they make often end up with a gnawing, nagging feeling which reminds them they could have succeeded in that endeavor or in that marriage only if they had tried harder. This feeling is referred to as regret. I have no doubt that it is difficult to be relentless if we don’t have the entire perspective on a situation or if we are not a big picture person. The big picture involves more than one person or a family or even a marriage. It transcends generations and usually impact on multiple destinies. That is why we need to be careful about the decision we make or fail to make. Each one of us is just a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and therefore we must remember that there is more than what we see.

In a marriage, a spouse with a big picture mentality will understand that it is not just about them or their desires but about others in the relationship or family. They will understand that it is not just about now or the experiences they are going through because sometimes, the worst times in our lives do more to strengthen us than the best times. A spouse with a big picture mindset always considers their actions and decisions carefully against the future they desire for them and others. After all in the long term, we get out of life what we put into it. On the contrary, people with no sense of the big picture are often narrow minded, impatient, self centered and  think only of today and how things impact on them. They give up the future they have not discovered for today with its limitations.

We all need to draw strength from the big picture so that we can run the race of life enduringly. For the price that is set before us, we must be willing just like our Lord to endure the cross of shame, failure, hard work, patience etc. so that we can realize the future we desire. It will require something or some things from us but we must be willing to sacrifice because trust me, no one accomplishes much without it. We may need to pray for God to refresh our memory with the big picture and to open our spiritual eyes to see beyond the now and the natural for us to be able to grasp this concept. Whatever we need to do, let’s do it because the big picture is not just an illusion, it is real.